Liverpool JMU

Liverpool John Moores University boosts sales writing skills

Emphasis helped the health and social sciences faculty at Liverpool John Moores University to write high-impact tenders – and win business.

Addressing a skills gap

The faculty was keen for its staff to bring in more third-stream income – largely through public-sector contracts in training, research and development. The ten teams engaged in this commercial work were highly skilled in writing academic reports, but didn’t know how to write effective tenders and bids. Business Development Manager Chris Edwards asked Emphasis to help address this skills gap.

Towards tailored – and readable – bids

Emphasis designed a business writing programme that showed faculty members how to write attention-grabbing executive summaries, structure a persuasive argument and tailor bids to the reader. It also looked at how to create a peg on which to hang sales messages. Readability was another key focus: encouraging staff to move away from using a passive, academic voice and towards using a more active voice to engage the reader.

What the attendees said

‘Having an individual writing style assessment was very useful,’ says Nick Medforth, Enterprise and Collaborative Partnerships Manager. ‘I learnt just how important it was to write for your audience and focus on what they’ve asked for.’

‘It was very useful to have thinking space for the day,’ adds Chris. ‘Learning the Four Ps [Position, Problem, Possibilities, Proposal] technique was an eye-opener. It turned on its head the way we used to approach executive summaries. Having the new structure is invaluable. We used to summarise everything we thought was key to winning the bid, but now we focus on the reader and set the scene and situation.

‘It was an excellent training session because, although people came from different academic backgrounds, everyone got something out of it,’ he continues. ‘I have found Emphasis to be superb. Everything was excellent, from the emails afterwards to the bookmarks Emphasis sent to remind us of the main principles. The trainer was also absolutely brilliant. It was all handled fantastically.’

More successful bids

Staff are now rising to the challenge of regularly using the high-impact writing skills they’ve learnt, ensuring that business documents are concise and customer-focused. ‘We have been more successful in our business goals since the training and have won a number of recent bids,’ says Chris.

There has also been a marked difference in the quality of the tenders. ‘We have put in better bids as a result. For every bid we’ve made, we have had excellent feedback.’